How is love of money evident in today's society?I was asked this question after reading The Devil and Tom Walker.
Boy, does this topic seem especially relevant now. In recent months, we have seen the "meltdown" on Wall Street, the sinking of the housing market, the fall of the great auto companies, and the deep economic recession into which the country has been plunged. All of these economic disasters resulted directly and indirectly from unbridled greed, starting with the Wall Street banking and investment firms who gambled recklessly with other people's money to turn quick profits of enormous proportions. They succeeded for a while, but their actions weakened the underpinnings of the American economy, and like a house of cards, it all fell down. Trillions of dollars in American wealth were lost, most of it lost by innocent investors who were saving for the future in their retirement funds and personal stock holdings. They weren't greedy, but they trusted their money to those who were.
Another sign of rampant greed that has come to the forefront lately is the amount of money paid in corporate bonuses to the heads of failing companies. Even executives who were fired for being inept received "golden parachutes," severance packages of millions of dollars. The wealthy at the top of the economic ladder, it seems, take care of each other at the expense of the public.
Perhaps the ultimate display of greed was exposed when Bernard Madoff was convicted of running a financial scheme that defrauded investors around the world. His greed was unprecedented in history. He won't be able to enjoy it, however, in the prison where he will be spending the rest of his life.
We are surrounded by materialism. Advertisements for designer apparel flaunt it, hip-hop artists talk about it, and television shows like Beverly Hills 90210 and Gossip Girl portray its images.
There are those who covet money because they desire the things that can be obtained from having a great deal of money. Power, Influence, Status, A beautiful home in an affluent neighborhood, a luxury vehicle. It all has its price and for some people, money is a means to an end.
Consider the people who religiously play the lottery. Every week, they play their numbers and anticipate the nightly drawing in hopes that this will be the week their numbers are called. True, they know it is a long shot, but they still play. Federal prisons are brimming with white-collar criminals who swindled clients, embezzled company funds, and hoarded money into overseas accounts. They don't do it for the thrill, they do it because of their love of money. They love what wealth represents.
Evidence of people's love of money can be seen in the percentage of Americans who are drowning in credit card debt. They apply for card after card, exceeding the limit on many, purchasing the latest electronic gadget, furnishing their home in the most luxurious decor and clothing themselves in designer clothing. No, they don't have the money to afford these things, but they want to have the appearance of wealth.
If greed is wanting more than one has, most people in America would probably be considered greedy. Let's face it, most of us want a bigger house, more clothes, another car, more jewelry, more gadgets, more extravagant vacations...and the list goes on. If it were just a matter of coveting (wanting), that wouldn't be greed. However, we buy things on credit because we just "have" to have whatever it is, and we need it today. Unfortunately, though we're also a nation that gives to those in need, we're also a nation of greedy consumers. It's just part of who we are.
You can't really avoid the wholesale materialism that America has sold itself out too. Consider the impact of new "must-have" gadgets that are as much about status as they are about money, for example Ipads and so on. Certainly we live in a society that praises the accumulation of wealth and where, if you have it, you are given more status because of it.
The collapse of the housing market with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at the front illustrates the greed of those who offered loans to people who they knew would never be able to make the mortgage payments. Yet, they loaned them the money so that they could profit.
People still are highly affected by money. Some people want money just for money's sake, but some people want power. You can get so caught up in getting money that you lose sight of what is really important to you.